United Church of Christ

Week of Prayer for Refugees

Week_of_Prayer_for_Refugees_Image_4_Week.jpgWill you join us in daily prayer this week to #Pray4Refugees

With the U.S. administration poised to announce another dangerous and damaging blow to the number of refugees welcomed in the United States in 2019, UCC Refugee Ministries is calling on all of our churches, members and communities to join us in #dailyprayer this week for #refugee families and the future of the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Will you join us in prayer each day and share these prayers with your community? See daily prayers and actions you can take below.

Why are we doing this? See background here to learn why we need prayers and what is at stake.

Do you want to stay involved?  Become part of UCC Refugee Ministries interactive network. Contact Amanda Sheldon at sheldona@ucc.org

Complete list of weekly activities 

Join us in prayer today through a short video from UCC Refugee Ministries staff, Rev. Dr. Mary Schaller Blaufuss, Team Leader for UCC Humanitarian and Development Ministries, and Amanda Sheldon, Program Associate for UCC Refugee Ministries and UCC Disaster Ministries.

Daily Action: Stay connected to the UCC’s faithful witness of walking alongside refugee families. Stay involved through an interactive e-mail list.  Contact Amanda Sheldon directly sheldona@ucc.org


Pray4Refugees-3Thursday.jpgToday’s prayer and reflection remind us that the urgency of the current crisis for refugee resettlement is part of the church’s continuing work and witness with refugees through the years and throughout the globe.

Refugees are from all parts of the globe and find themselves in all parts of the globe.  These reflections from the Middle East are one of those regions.

Prayer of the Day: A Blessing by the National Council of Churches in Australia, 2003.
God, bless our eyes so that we recognize injustices.  Bless our ears so that we will hear the cry of the stranger.  Bless our mouths so that we will speak words of welcome to newcomers.  Bless our shoulders so we will be able to bear the weight of struggling for justice.  Bless our hands so that we can work together with all people to establish peace.

Reflection written by Dr. Peter Makari, Global Ministries Area Executive for the Middle East and Europe

The Middle East is a region with a disproportionate number of people displaced from their homes—either within their country or beyond. Almost 20 million Syrians, Iraqis, and Palestinians are the most affected, having fled war, instability, and insecurity at home. So many in the region remain as either internally displaced or refugees in neighboring countries. Theirhost countries, including Jordan and Lebanon, do not have the capacity to provide for their needs, and have been overwhelmed by their presence.  Partner churches and church-related organizations are offering much needed services and relief to the people in need throughout the region, and we have supported those efforts, although the needs remain great, weeks, months, years, and even decades after people are forcibly displaced. The U.S. has the capacity to welcome many more people to our country than we currently allow, and has historically welcomed up to 212,000 refugees annually during the Reagan administration.  Our churches have proven their readiness to offer welcome, to assist in the process of resettlement and to advocate for a more humane immigration policy.  Our brothers and sisters who are forced to flee their homes are often in dire circumstances, but hold on to the dream of a future that ensures stability, safety, and hope for themselves and their children. We can help offer that opportunity, even as we support an end to conflict, peace, and justice for all people in the Middle East.

Daily Action: Learn more about UCC work with refugees within the United States and around the globe at http://www.ucc.org/refugee_news


Prayer of the Day: Dr. Edith Guffey, Conference Minister of the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference UCC leads us in prayer today.

_Pray4RefugeesFriday.jpgGracious and Loving God, We know O God, that this is Your world, a world that was created without walls and without borders. And yet we also know that there are thousands upon thousands of refugees waiting to be “let in”; waiting to hear a word of where they will be accepted and what place might become their new home. We don’t really know their stories; we don’t always know why they left their homes and families for an unknown and risky future. But we do know that they are your children just as we are your children.

We pray that the actions of our leaders in welcoming those seeking refuge will be a reflection of the love you have for all children. May we be a country that is anxious to share the many gifts we have rather than a country afraid of what we might lose. Please God, open our clenched hands and closed hearts.  

And while so many wait for news of where they will call home, may we have the courage to speak for those whose voices are not yet heard as they are not yet here. This is our prayer.  Amen.

Daily Action: Dr. Edith Guffey Kansas-Oklahoma UCC Conference Minister has sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is from Kansas, advocating for his influence in allowing the resettlement of at least 75,000 refugees in the coming year. Will you write to Secretary Pompeo too?  Or write an Opinion Editorial to your local newspaper and share why, as a person of faith, you support refugee resettlement? No special skills are needed. We have resources to help walk you through the process here.

 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBekiCfdz_E         

From Clara Hart, refugee from Mozambique“After many days of walking, our feet were swollen and our bodies were tired but we could not stop. After experiencing such traumas, I faced other challenges while being resettled in the U.S., such as learning the cultural norms, new foods and different ways of speaking. What has made the biggest difference in overcoming these hardships – and in healing from past traumas – has been the welcome I received when I joined my new community.” --Argus Leader in Sioux Falls

Prayer of the Day: Today, create your own prayer for refugee families. Share that prayer on social media using the hashtag #Pray4Refugees

Daily Action:  Today we also ask God for the courage and faith to call our Member of Congress and tell them we want to welcome at least 75,000 refugee families in 2019. Here is a very simple script to help guide you through what can sometimes feel like an intimidating conversation. Legislators want to hear from constituents.  They can have direct influence on the decision about maximum number of refugees allowed for resettlement in the U.S. for the coming year.


_Pray4Refugees.jpgFrom Salemu Alimasi, refugee from the DRC
 “When I close my eyes, I can still hear the cry of innocent children and women screaming for help and the smell of people burned alive in their houses. After experiencing such traumas, I arrived in the United States with a new set of challenges. But the welcome we received from our new Houston community helped me overcome these hardships and begin healing from my past.”

Prayer of the Day: God, today we ask for prayers for [insert person’s first name], for the refugee resettlement offices that welcome those like {insert name], and for the churches and community members who walk alongside refugees as they begin their lives anew. May we be blessed with at least 75,000 new refugee friends and neighbors in 2019, and may the Spirit be present in discerning our part in this ministry of welcome. Amen.

Daily Action: In addition to joining us in prayer today, click here to find the refugee resettlement office closest to you. Call them and ask “how can I help?” It really is that simple!


As we jDay_2a.jpgoin in prayer for refugee families and the future of the refugee resettlement program today, let us hear from Scripture:

"When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod…” Matthew 2:13-14

"One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31.

Daily Action:You can bring #Pray4Refugees to your church by using this litany for refugees and asylum-seekers in your worship service on Sunday.


Day_1_Pray4Refugees.jpgPrayer of the Day: Written by the Rev. Jim Moos, Executive Minister for Global Engagement and Operations

“God of our ancestors, many of whom fled violence and persecution in search of a new land, we know of your love and compassion for refugees. We remember that Mary and Joseph once fled to Egypt with the Christ child to escape the murderous rampage of King Herod, and we come to you with concern for the many millions of refugees in our day. 

“We grieve the fact that, in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in history, our country is increasingly closing our doors to them as fear, bigotry and misinformation run rampant. Banish ignorance, hatred and indifference from all hearts and remove barriers to love and justice. Lead us as a nation back to the scriptural mandates to love the stranger, to welcome the alien and to extend freedom to the oppressed. 

“We pray for protection for refugees in the midst of dangerous travels, hope for those who languish in camps and healing for separated families that long to be reunited. 

“We pray that the forces of violence and destruction that drive refugees from their homes might be overcome with justice and peace. 

“At this time when critical policy decisions are being made, we pray that those in power in our nation’s capital would reopen the doors that we might again welcome refugees in large numbers with joy and thanksgiving, recognizing that we are your children together.  

“We ask these things, not as helpless bystanders, but as disciples who are committed to learning and implementing the ways of love in our communities and world.”

In Christ’s name, Amen.

Daily Action: Will you commit to joining with us in prayer each day this week?  Put a reminder on your phone or place a sticky note in plain sight.  Follow UCC Refugee Ministries on social media Facebook and Twitter